The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water.
Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Back as kids playing ball, we used to call it a “do-over”. A second chance.
In today’s reading, Jonah sets forth on foot to the capital of the Assyrian empire, Nineveh. What a paragon of compliance and courage this prophet is, obeying God’s call and travelling for days to a territory known to be an enemy to Israel! And how compelling is the delivery of his message of repentance – even the king humbles himself into a sackcloth!
Apparently news had not reached the people of Nineveh that, just verses before, this prophet Jonah had turned tail and headed in the exact opposite direction in response to God’s first call to evangelize these idolaters . He boarded a boat upon which the Lord sent a violent storm. Cast into the sea, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, which deposited Jonah unceremoniously back on to land.
As comic book as the text of Jonah can seem to be, the message within it is simple and reassuring – God keeps trying with us. Our human potential is made to overcome our imperfection because day after day, generation after generation, in perpetuity, God offers us a second chance.
—Tim Sassen is the Director of Web Development and Communications at Loyola Academy and a member of the PrayLA development group.
God, here I am again. As I pause to reflect on my day, I confess that I have not always done as I ought and that once again today I am in need of your forgiveness and grace. All I ask for is another chance, another opportunity to follow your path for my life and serve you as I ought. Thank you, God, for your grace and love which are always forgiving and always redeeming me. Amen.
—Howard CraigPlease share the Good Word with your friends!